Friday, August 10, 2012

Hank 3: Some Personal History

by Pa Rock
Name Dropper

One of our local newspapers ran an article this week on Hank Williams III, the son and grandson of country music legends.  The young singer and musician (age 39, young to me) will be performing in Tempe, Arizona, next Wednesday, West Hollywood, California, Friday evening, and Las Vegas on Saturday.  A photo of young Hank, literally covered in tattoos, accompanied the article.

I met Hank 3 when he was eleven-years-old, well before his first visit to a tattoo parlor.  The year was 1984 and I was helping to set up a riverside picnic for the Democratic Committee in McDonald County, Missouri.  The lad (whose real name is Shelton Hank Williams) showed up at the picnic with his other grandfather, Tommie Yeargain of Jane, Missouri.  Tommie was the Eastern Commissioner of McDonald County at the time and was out hustling votes.  Yeargain's daughter, Gwen, had been married to Hank Williams, Jr.  After they divorced Shelton spent a great deal of time with his Missouri relatives, and he was often in the company of his grandfather as he traveled the back roads of McDonald County in his pickup truck doing his commissioner duties and campaigning.  The bond between Tommie and Shelton was strong and obvious.

Our sheriff, Lou Keeling, walked up to me while I was doing some picnic-related chores and said, "Rock, I want you to meet Hank Williams the third."  I shook the kid's hand and told him how much I liked his grandfather's music.  Later, when he was preparing to talk to a local television reporter, he borrowed my boom box and put in one of his dad's tapes for background music.  He was obviously proud of his dad and solidly connected to him.

(A few years later he wrote a piece for our local newspaper in which he was very critical of his dad - undoubtedly some obligatory teen rebellion stuff - but they have since recorded together, so the rift must have healed.)

I did see the future country singer one other time when he was still just a boy.  He and some of his young buddies were running amok at the country fair when one of the local teachers who knew the group rounded them up and proceeded exert a calming influence.  Good teachers are always "on duty!"

Hank 3, as he is professionally known, earned his chops as a country singer by performing in Branson for several years.  He sounds more like his Hank Senior than Junior.  He also bears a striking physical resemblance to Hank Williams, Sr.  When Hank 3 met Minnie Pearl, she supposedly remarked that he was the "ghost" of his grandfather.

But Hank 3 is his own man, and his music has branched out into punk and metal as well as his basic country. He had an album entitled "Straight to Hell" that Wal-Mart refused to handle until he provided them with a sanitized version.  The un-sanitized version became the first country album released by a major label that had to have a parental advisory warning

So that quiet little kid from all those years ago has grown up, gotten tattooed, and sings songs that offend the censors at Wal-Mart.  It would appear that he is every bit the individual that his famous father and grandfather were.  Bochepus is undoubtedly proud of him, and I suspect Hank Senior would have also admired his grandson for making his own music and living life by his own rules.

I know that his other grandfather thought the world of him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very nice tribute